Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

New home

A little housekeeping – sometime over the next 24 hours new entries on the Social Networking Blog will start to appear on my website at http://www.clapperton.co.uk – you’ll still be able to get there by logging on to http://www.socialnetworkingblog.co.uk and those of you coming straight to WordPress will still find the old entries; I’m putting it elsewhere because it’s reaching the stage at which advertising might become viable or even marginally lucrative, and the WordPress people won’t allow advertising on their blogs.

Thanks for looking in – see you in the other place!

April 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twitter annoyances

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Great blog post pointed out by Jack Schofield of the Guardian to his followers, on ways of annoying Twitter users. I could add a few; we’re getting to the stage at which posting to Twitter about Twitter is going to seem very old hat (we could just accept Twitter’s there and get on with it, nobody phones you to talk about the phone network); engaging in endless one to one communications which should long ago have been taken to private mail and posting exclusively about your product are among them. But the list in this link is pretty much excellent and I’m relieved to say I don’t indulge in many of them. Not often anyway…

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April 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Building online communities profitably

A community of interest gathers at Stonehenge,...
Image via Wikipedia

A great blog post from the moblogsproblems blog points to areas that might explain why people don’t follow someone online, or why they don’t take part in communities. Since one of the issues is with not acknowledging helpful people I’ll start by thanking Shonali Burke for pointing it out, I don’t have a note of her website but she has an excellent blog and you can follow her on Twitter here.

The monetisation thing is something that interests me (funnily enough). I’ve only been plugging away at this particular site for just over a month (and took a week off last week) but it’s starting to get significant amounts of readers, particularly when I pick a fight with someone (again, funnily enough). The option to try to make it profitable somehow is probably premature but as I’ve just discovered WordPress deletes html code on my page by default (thanks, guys) don’t worry, you won’t be plagued with ads for a while just yet.

There are a lot of people, though, who want to engage with and build communities for the sake of it – clubs, fan circles whether of sports, favourite TV programmes, you know the sort of thing. I think a point that the original blogger has missed is picking an audience that’s ready to be engaged is vitally important. I get a fair bit of feedback on this site, but then it’s about social networking. I chose the subject to go with my book (must do a bit of work on that when I’m through blogging) but also because the people who were into social networking would also be into responding online. If I’d picked another subject close to my heart – say being a fortysomething father, which believe me is the most important thing in my life – then a lot of my target market would have needed the concept of blogging and responding explained to them before moving ahead with it.

So, address the audience but make sure the audience is ready first, would be my first advice to anyone wanting to set up a community. Second, be prepared to market to them – since the invention of the Internet there’s been an illusion that the audience will just turn up, somehow.

No doubt more will occur to me, spurred by other blog posts and articles – I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s perspectives.

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April 16, 2009 Posted by | Social media financing, social media trends | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Twitter useless?

A cross-post from my Daniweb blog – debate on Twitter and its effectiveness continues. Click here to read the entry.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | Social networking providers | Leave a comment

Music and Twitter


This is an odd one. The Streets, a band in the UK for anyone who doesn’t know, are going to start uploading music and making it available to fans free through their Twitter feed.

10/10 for innovative use of social media, and the same for pleasing the fans. I’ll be interested to see how they can continue to earn a living whilst giving their songs away for nothing, though.

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April 15, 2009 Posted by | social media trends, Unexpected things happen | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social networks harming morality?

I was going to blog aboutthe reports claiming social networking harm morality earlier on but decided against it – they were too silly, I thought.

Then they hit the National Press here in the UK. And it’s crazy. The idea is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter don’t give you the time to react to a bit of news so you don’t see immorality or sadness as you ought to.

We’ll leave aside the issue of people telling us how we ought to feel – there are occasions on which certain reactions are definitelty appropriate in my view, and I’ll accept that. There are also times when I’ve seen so much death or sadness on the TV news that I hardly notice, which I accept is less than desirable. Social networks can of course amplify that effect by being such a fast medium.

What troubles me is the implication that I’m too stupid, and so are all the other users, to remain in charge of the media I’m watching. More than at any point during my lifetime, I can take my own time watching or reading something. I don’t have to be in front of the TV at a particular time for the news and I can take as long as I want reading a Twitter post, short though it may be.

By all means highlight the danger but please, could we remember the people reading this stuff are intelligent individuals who dictate how they use the new media, not the other way around.

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April 14, 2009 Posted by | social media trends | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

News anchors at war

This is one of those examples of what can go wrong in social media even when you’re not using it. The following is a video clip of an American news programme – keep watching and wait and see what happens when the interview appears to be over (it’s only a couple of minutes in total).

This is decidedly not the sort of thing you want on YouTube if it involves your company.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Social media howlers | , , , , | Leave a comment

Working for free

Since I mentioned on this blog and elsewhere a while ago that I’d been commissioned to write a book on social networking a number of people have asked me to speak at events. This is of course most kind – until you gather than a handful expect you to appear at their shindig, for which they’re expecting an income, for nothing.

It’s a minority of course, but if you’re one of them do have a look at this video…

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Social media howlers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloggers and press releases

TwitScoop and Twitter search filters in Tweetdeck
Image by Kevglobal via Flickr

Back from the Easter Hols (very nice thanks, few days at mum’s place) and I’ve walked straight into an argument over PR and blogging. It started innocently enough; a blogger who I won’t name puts a note up on Twitter to ask people to stop sending him press releases because they’re ‘not relevant’.

Why this caught my eye I don’t know, but it did. So I check the guy’s profile and there it is, for everyone to see: “Information junkie”. So we have a self-proclaimed information junkie asking professionals not to send him information. I make this point to him.

He responds, saying he doesn’t want spam to his work address, and he’s a blogger not a journalist so if people want his attention they have to mail him direct. He asks me if I haven’t had a release I’d consider spam from a PR in my time.

Well, no I haven’t. I’ve had releases that were badly targeted (I write primarily about small business and technology, so the woman who started sending me releases about female sex aids once was way off the mark albeit she makes a good anecdote); I’ve had those that are poorly written, but no, once I’ve said in public that I’m a freelance journalist I don’t think I can justifiably describe any genuine press release as unsolicited.

Twitter spats aside, there are a few salient points to be made. First, if you publicise yourself – no matter where – as someone seeking information, people who choose to send you this info are not doing anything wrong. The chances are that they are a professional doing a job, and if you imagine that the rest of the world should be instinctively aware of any strictures you’ve unilaterally applied then you’re plum crazy. Second, PRs and marketers have thousands of contacts to manage so if their approach seems a little impersonal that’s probably because it is. If you want a personal approach then pick up the phone and there is every chance a real person will speak to you. Personally.

Second, even if you’re a blogger rather than a journalist (and goodness knows those lines are starting to blur) expect to manage your own online identity. If someone thinks something is going to be of interest to you, the chances are very good that they’ll Google for your name and send their mails to the first address they find. This means it’s up to you – not them – to ensure that the address they find first is the one you want them to use (try searching for Guy Clapperton and I can almost guarantee that every search you perform will produce clapperton.co.uk as the number one hit). And cut the guff – there are no ‘new rules’ for bloggers and other social media users, if you put your head over the parapet as being interested in information then the professional providers of it are going to start sending it. It’s your job to filter, not the PR’s job to hand-check every approach when they have thousands to handle. This means there is a risk to a blogger who is employed by someone else full time – yes, your work mail may become stuffed with information you’d rather went somewhere else. Your employer is not going to listen to stuff about how it’s the fault of an incompetent PR if their mail servers are becoming blocked. You’ve drawn attention to yourself, Pandora’s box and all that.

Not that bloggers are a bad thing. The ructions in Westminster over the weekend, in which some pretty dirty stuff was uncovered (here’s the blog where it all started) by a blog, and regardless of your politics it’s important that smear campaigns and blatant lies are uncovered for what they are. They are invaluable on the one hand, entertaining on another. As I’ve said before, though, there’s a real problem ahead for people who think they can blog without responsibility. In the past I’ve said this responsibility covers accuracy, libel and suchlike; it’s clear after this morning’s spat that this resp0nsibility also includes management of an online identity and not whining when people take you seriously enough to try to make contact.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | social media trends | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Commissioning through social networks

Time for some fun stuff after a few days off (he says, blogging from the iPhone, do tell me whether you can read this!). I’ve been asked to commission and edit a supplement that will go out with one of the Nationals,
and in the first instance I’m going to see how many of the writers I can contact through social networks rather than traditional means.

I have no doubt I’ll give up quickly – I’m being paid for this after all so I want to
do it properly – but it should be fun to see just how far I can push it.

I’ll keep you informed.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Unexpected things happen | , , , | Leave a comment

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